Reply To: Feeling resentful about his ADHD

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ADHD Pun Here
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I know I’m pretty late to the party, but I’m hoping that my two cents will still be able to help. I know I don’t know you, but I hope it’s okay for me to say that I’m really proud of you for not just instantly giving up on your relationship. That takes a lot of love and courage and he’s lucky to be on the receiving end of that.

I’m in this major group therapy program right now, and it’s taught me a lot about myself and my ADHD. I’ve learned that the biggest lie I told myself, for years on end, was that my behavior wasn’t my fault, that I could blame it all on the disorder, or the behavior of those around me, or the situation I was in… I let myself believe that it couldn’t be my fault, so I never had to take responsibility.

Here’s the thing about how an individual behaves: No one can force them to act or speak or respond in any way. I’ve come to acknowledge that the ONLY person at fault for my bad behavior is me. We can influence how others may act, but we only have control over ourselves. And taking that ownership has turned all of my relationships around. I’m more thoughtful in how I respond to my fiancé, more soft-spoken when I disagree with my mother, and more patient while interacting with others.

You’re going out of your way to keep from upsetting him, even though his reaction of anger is a choice he makes. You’re taking the time to be considerate of his disorder, being patient at times for hours on end, even though he continues to ignore what you tell him. You’re being left alone to try and manage both your own emotional responses, and his on top of that. No wonder you’re so exhausted, you’re trying to maintain all of that AND your relationship as well. You’re only one person.

If he was a child, or you really were responsible for him in some other way, things would be different. But the fact of the matter is that he is an adult who is, in many ways, treating his SO like a caretaker instead of a partner. I know that you love him, and I know how important that connection to another person can be. But your first priority needs to be taking care of your own needs, not worrying about rocking the boat.

This is not me telling you to leave him. While I’ll admit that I think your relationship sounds unhealthy, I also know that I only have a sliver of perspective on your relationship. You’re an adult, and you can make the choice to stay or leave. You’ve already proven how brave you are, remember? Now it’s just a matter of being brave for yourself.

If you do stay with him, I highly suggest you stop letting small behaviors slide. It will only lead to resentment, and that’s not good for either of you. Establish boundaries, WITH consequences (example: “I need to finish reading my book tonight. If you keep interrupting me, I’ll have to go to the leave”). And then make sure you follow through. These shouldn’t be ultimatums, because all you’re doing is establishing a boundary in your relationship and holding to it. It doesn’t have to escalate into a deal breaker. I also suggest you give him as much positive reinforcement as you can when he does something right. A little acknowledgement can go a long way.

If you do leave him, please try to explain to him, as clearly as you can, what led you to that point. There is no greater consequence for one’s actions than the loss of someone dear. He needs to understand what he did and didn’t do to get you to this point. And remember that just because you love him, that doesn’t mean you have to be his caretaker. You leaving him would be about your boundaries and limitations and what you’re willing to put up with, not about his potential sadness or remorse.

Whatever you do, remember that you are only responsible for your own actions, and let that be a comfort if you start to regret your decision. I’m sorry this was so long, but I hope it helps. Good luck, whatever you do.